Friday, February 28, 2014

Five on Friday

1. Gymnastics: Our little munchkin had her very first gymnastics class this week.  We think she has a bit of cabin fever.  Lately, all she wants to do is climb and jump on every piece of furniture we own.  So we decided it might be time to find somewhere, once a week, where she can burn off some energy.  We found a local gymnastics class and enrolled her!  She loves it!

2.  Clean car {or lack thereof}: My car.  I like it clean and shiny, but this winter it has been anything but that.  Since the weather has been so crappy and cold, the car has definitely taken a backseat priority-wise.  However, this weekend she’s getting an oil-change and a good scrub down.  Is it sad I’m super excited about this?

3. Dinner last night:  Lately we've been in a bit of a dinner slump.  Not sure why, but most of the meals we've planned are just ok, nothing really good.  Last night was different! I know it wasn't the healthiest thing in the world {hello entire block of cream cheese}, but we put it with rice and veggies and it was awesome.  I was very skeptical since I don’t like cream cheese, but boy was I wrong, everyone, including Rowen loved it!  Creamy Italian Chicken {feel free to pin it using the Pin logo at the bottom of this post!}

 Creamy Italian Chicken
Credit: Fast, Cheap & Easy
4. Saturdays:  Saturdays are about to change for me.  No more sleeping in until 7am.  No more leisurely mornings.  Why?  I will be training for my second half marathon and Saturday mornings are dedicated to long runs.  I have mixed emotions.  Part of me is excited to get back into good, running shape, but the other part of me is secretly dreading all the time and energy that will be dedicated to it.  I just hope it goes well!

5.  Easter: {Insert squeal of excitement here}!  Easter aisle.  Hobby Lobby.  Enough said.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February: Favorite Decor Item

Happy freezing, windy, bitterly cold Wednesday!

I've decided it's time for my monthly "favorites" post.  These are short, sweet, little posts that focus on one or two items that have made me exceptionally happy during the month.  No limits, it can be anything.  So here we go!
Since we moved into our house, I've been struggling with decor items for my living room. I have a specific color scheme I am going for, but haven't really been able to find anything I like.

Back in December, frames were on mega sale at TJ Maxx so I took full advantage and bought up a bunch even though I had zero plans for them.

Then, one day at Target, I got a little sidetracked and somehow ended up in the scrapbooking aisle where I found these adorable journaling cards!

It just so happened that this little booklet, full of adorable prints and inspirational quotes, fit right in with my color scheme!  I headed home and popped them right in!

Here my two of my favorites {I love the phrase in the smaller frame}.

Simple as that!  Two little items that make me oh so happy!  :)

See ya!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

DIY: Door Wreath

Happy Monday!  I'm feeling much better today!  I still didn't get a full nights sleep last night, but I don't feel near as crappy as I did yesterday, yay!  

As promised, I have a fun DIY project to show you today!  In one of my posts last week I mentioned something called "Pinterest Day" aka a day where a bunch of us girls get together at someone's house to craft, drink wine, chat and eat junk food.  So much fun!

There are two rules we follow on Pinterest Day and they are: 
  1. Bring supplies needed to create a project you've pinned on Pinterest (each person does their own project, we aren't all doing the same one).
  2. Bring a snack to share using a recipe you've found on Pinterest!  
Pretty simple and it's always a good time!

Here is the inspiration for my project. I'd been eyeing this wreath on Etsy for sometime now, but couldn't bring myself to pay $55.  So instead I pinned it and decided to make it myself!

Using a 40% coupon from Hobby Lobby, I bought everything you see here to make the wreath for only $17!  Much more justifiable in my opinion!  

Here are the supplies I needed:
  • Wreath made from sticks
  • Wooden letter
  • White acrylic paint
  • 5, individual, fake, burlap, hydrangea flowers
  • Wired burlap ribbon (I used white chevron print)
  • Craft twine
  • Scissors
  • Cheap paint brush

I started by painting the wooden letter the day before the party to allow it adequate time to dry.

The next day I packed up my supplies and headed to the party to finish the rest!

The stems on the hydrangea leaves were a bit long, so I snipped the ends and stuck each flower in-between the sticks on the left side of the wreath. They were perfectly secure without even using glue...easy peesy!

Next came the bow.  Thankfully, I had my cousin there who was a pro at tying bows.  I wrapped the ribbon around the wreath before tying the bow, but to make it a bit easier you could cut and tie the ribbon first and then hot glue it to the wreath.  Just an idea!

I then took my twine {without cutting it}and wrapped it around the right side of the wreath. I attempted to do so in a way that looked more rustic by leaving a few gaps in-between sections of the twine. 

Once I had the twine wrapped halfway down the right side of the wreath {don't cut the twine yet}, I then placed the wooden letter on top of the twine and started wrapping a few times around the letter.  After it was secure I then cut the twine and tied a knot.  

Done! I couldn't wait to get home and hang it on my front door! 

It turned out great and was beyond simple to make!  I think I might make a second one for summer with more vibrant colors!  Can't wait!

Speaking of "can't waits", I am SOOOOO unbelievably excited for THIS...

Ryan and I have been waiting four, long, torturous months to see the last eight episodes of this show and they FINALLY released it on Netflix last night!  Ahhhh! BEST.SHOW.EVER!

See ya!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Meal Plan Monday

I'm sick.  Sick of being sick.  Basically these few items have been my best friends for the past 24 hours.

Last week I felt a sore throat coming on and pretty much ignored it refusing to get sick...again.  A few days after that the soreness was gone {yes!}, but then yesterday, BOOM, it hit me like a truck.  I was coughing, congested, and sneezing.   Awesome.  Needless to say I'm staying at home today.  I always feel so guilty calling in sick, but I knew I wouldn't be able to function at 100% so here at am, at home, in bed, feeling like crap.  Ugh.

I'm just hopeful that some of these delicious meals we've planned for the week will help me to bounce back quickly!  Check it out.

Monday: Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

Tuesday: Easy Beef Enchiladas

Wednesday: Creamy Italian Crockpot Chicken 

Thursday: Hot Open Faced Roast Beef Sandwich

Friday: Easy Meatball Subs

I have a fun DIY project coming your way tomorrow, stay tuned! :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up

Happy Sunday!  So I am going to apologize in advance for lack of content in this post.  Rowen and I were sort of under the weather this weekend with colds, blah.   We originally had plans to explore our "new" town, however that didn't really happen.  Oh well, maybe next weekend!

Anyway, Friday night Ryan met up with a few of his friends and Rowen and I headed out to meet my sister for dinner.  

We love Mexican.  It's fast, cheap and Rowen loves it!

After dinner we headed home for bed because the next morning we had a little family outing planned...

Story time at the Library!  One of the "exploration" items at the top of my list was to venture out to our local library.  I had heard from others that our library has a great program for kids so we decided to check it out.

Rowen's attention span for reading books is about one minute so I wasn't sure how she'd do listening to a story.  Thankfully, my child is not the only one with a short attention span, and the reading was more interactive that I thought!  Part of the story time involved playing with shapes.  Rowen absolutely loved it, she wanted to be front and center the entire time, so funny!

When we're at home Rowen isn't very independent.  In fact, she's our little shadow and wants to be around us every waking minute.  However, if you put her in a room with other kids she forgets all about us...go figure!

After playing around on the ipad, we checked out a few books and headed home.  The afternoon then consisted of a three hour nap for both Rowen and I.  Glorious!

Today was the norm.  Grocery shopping and Target {where Rowen decided it's more fun to sit backward in the cart without shoes}.  If any mom's out there have a solution to getting your child to actually sit correctly in the cart, please share!

This afternoon Rowen went to my parent's house for some quality Grandma and Grandpa time and I decided have a little me time...

Lucky for me I had a 30% off coupon and what I wanted was on sale.  Score!  

I am not sure if this is a new scent or not, but I seriously can't get enough!  My whole house currently smells like fresh strawberries and I love it!  Who can blame me?  At this point I will do whatever it takes to make summer seem a little less far away!

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent catching up with a few friends, which we always enjoy!

Like I said, not a very exciting weekend, but fun nonetheless!

Have a good night!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five on Friday

So I am new to this whole “link-up” idea, but I thought I’d give it a try and join the link-up party with one of my favorite blogs hosted by, The Good Life.  So here are my five...

1.  I’m sick of my world looking like this.  It’s safe to say winter blues have hit me hard this year.  Oh how I long for the days of warm weather and lots of sunshine!

2.  For the better part of the week Rowen has been under the weather.  She came down with a low-grade fever early in the week and is now very congested.  I blame the wretched winter weather {see above}. 

3.  Please tell me it’s ok to eat half a box in one sitting?  I seriously can’t get enough! 

4.  A peek into my Birchbox I received this week.  I cannot tell you how happy it makes to to get this little box in the mail every month!  <3

 5. Stopped to get a coffee this AM.  Instead of getting my regular coffee order from my favorite barista, Nate at Starbucks {you know it’s bad when you know the barista by name and they know you} I stopped at Caribou to try a Northern Lights Dark Chocolate Mocha {no whip}.  Ohhh ya...SOO good!  

Also shared with: Little Friday

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Budgeting:: The Debt Snowball

The other day I heard a statistic from a co-worker that I thought was quite interesting and is what gave me the idea for this series of blog posts.  It goes something like this, “The average American with one credit card is $15,950 in debt”.  The scary thing about that figure is that it may not even include the debt they might have from things like student loans, cars, a mortgage, etc. YIKES!

We are lucky in that we don’t have credit card debt, but we do have some debt.  It's nothing extreme and is what I would consider a “normal” amount of debt for people our age.  However, it's debt and we don't want it.

Yesterday I talked about how our family budgets via the envelope system.  The budgeting we do allows us to use any “extra” money we have to be put down on the debt we owe.  A pretty simple concept if you think about it.  Dave Ramsey calls this concept the “Debt Snowball” and here’s how it works:

1.  List your debts:  List all your debts in order starting with the smallest balance (your mortgage is not included in this).  Don’t be concerned with interest rates unless you have two debts with similar payoffs, in which you would list the higher interest rate debt first. 

2. Attack:  Pay as much as possible to the first debt on your list.  This is where the budgeting sheet I spoke of yesterday comes into play.  The budget sheet will help you realize how much extra money you can put toward your debts.  While paying as much as you can on the first debt, pay only the minimum payments on your other debts. 

3. Repeat:  Once the first debt is paid off, you’ll now have more money to put toward the next debt. Over time, as you continue to payoff creditors, you will direct a larger amount of money toward each remaining debt.  This is point where the whole process really starts to move and you start seeing your debt decrease quickly. 

So then what do you do once you've paid off all your debts?   Here are the steps we plan to follow (Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps”)

1. $1,000 saved as Emergency Funds (Our personal opinion was to save more than $1,000 for an emergency, but others may disagree.  Either way, have something set aside just in case).

2.  Pay off all debt with the debt snowball {we are currently finishing up this step now!}

3. Save three to six months expenses in savings

4.  Invest 15% of income into Roth IRAs and a retirement plan.

5.  Save for College Funding

6. Pay off your home early

7. Build wealth and give

That’s the plan in a nutshell, we know it’s going to take awhile to get to step number 7, but we can’t wait until we’re there!  

With that, I think I hear the olympics, a cozy blanket and THESE delicious treats calling my name! See ya!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Budgeting:: The Envelope System

It’s an exciting month in our household!  Why?  Because this month we will be paying off one of my student loans…much earlier than planned!  Wheeeeee!  I could not be more excited to get rid of it!

In the next couple of posts I plan to do a money theme, the first one starting with how we as a family do our budget.  I think every family struggles with this to some extent so I thought it this post might relate to a lot of people.

Ryan is very good with money.  I honestly think he could live off of $2 a day if he had to, and I only wish I could say the same for me.  Maybe it has something to do with being a girl, but it’s just not possible for me.  Before we started budgeting I never went spending crazy, and I always made sure to talk to Ryan before buying something expensive, but I definitely wasn't watching what I was spending!

This summer, when we decide to put our house up for sale, we agreed that budgeting needed to be one of our top priorities.  Needless to say for Ryan this was no big deal, however, I was less than thrilled.  After he showed me the math that illustrates just how much money we COULD be saving per year if we didn't have any debt, I was 100% on board.  It was crazy! 

Since October we've kicked our budgeting plan into high gear and in just four months we've already paid off one piece of debt, so exciting! 

One of the best budgeting tools we've found {and others we've talked to agree} comes from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University Class.  In this class he talks a lot about the “Envelope System”.  Now, I should probably note that Ryan and I have not taken Dave’s class, but we've done the research to know what the Envelope System is all about.  Unfortunately, because everyone’s finances differ, there are no step by step directions for how to do it, but here’s the system we’re using in a nutshell:

1. All cash:  Get on board with the concept of cash only.  We only use our debit card once a month to pay our bills, everything else is cash.  We even went as far as to cut up one of our extra credit cards {Dave would tell you to cut them all up, but we disagree and keep one on hand for emergencies}.

2.  Make a realistic budget.  We use an Excel spreadsheet to lay out all of our monthly 'bills' and their individual totals in one column.  This column only includes things we are billed for each month like our mortgage, student loans, electricity, cable, cell phones, etc.  We then dedicate a second column to our monthly 'expenses' like daycare, haircuts, groceries, gas, things we aren't necessarily billed for each month, but do pay for on a regular basis.  Don't forget those things you pay once a year like car registration and be sure to break it down monthly to make sure you save enough.  This gives us a good overview of just how much we spend each month, which is critical in making this system work.

3. Divide and conquer:  We then dedicated envelopes for each of the monthly “expenses” (column two on the spreadsheet).  For this, you can have as many envelopes as you need.  We’re pretty strict so we've created an envelope for almost every possible expense we can think of…even the dog has two {ha!}.

4.  Fill ‘em up:  On pay day{s}, head to the bank and get your’ll get to know your bankers quite well.   Side note:  It helps to know exactly what denominations you need your cash in.  After you've categorized each envelope, fill them up with the money you've allotted for in your spreadsheet.  For example, if you've allotted for $75 per month in clothing, put $75 cash in the envelope.  It’s important to note here that it may take a few months to get the allotted amounts for each envelope right.  You may find the first few times you do it that you've either over or under budgeted for a certain expense, but that’s ok. Make a note of it and see if you can correct it the following month.  Eventually, you’ll get it right!

5.  When it’s gone it’s gone: Warning...this is the hard part!  Once you've spent all the money in a given envelope, too bad so sad, you’re done spending for that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend everything in your clothing envelope {guilty}, you can’t spend any more on clothes until you budget for that category again next month.

6. Don’t be tempted: Leave your debit card at home.  I've found there is seriously something psychological about spending cash, it hurts more, I swear! Haha!

That’s it! Again, each family is different, so this may not work for everyone, but it seems to be working for us!

My next post will be about another budgeting tool we use, Dave Ramsey's “Debt Snowball” stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An 18 Month Update

My plan is to post updates of Rowen every few months as an easy way to keep track of some of her milestones. This morning I realized she's about to turn 19 months in two days..eek, so here's a quick update of our little lady at 18 months:

Age: 18 Months!

Stats: 22.1 lbs & 31 inches tall

Teeth: Molars are on their way in, but for now she’s got at least seven.

Clothes: 18-24 months

Favorite Foods:  Pasta, & bananas.  She’s a great eater, will try anything!

Milestones:  Our girl seriously talks non-stop!  We've tried to count how many words she knows and we think she's mastered well over 50!  It seriously sometimes feels like we can have a conversation with her now that started putting words into small sentences, it's so fun!  Some of her favorites include:

  • "i yike it" (I like it)
  • "buh-bye daddy"
  • buh-bye mommy"
  • "milk peese" (milk please)
  • "thank you, welcome" (she thinks she has to say both consecutively)
  • "eat, yes?" (when asking to eat)
  • "no, no Car Car" (short for our dog, Carly)
  • "its ok baby" (after she drops her baby doll flat on her face)
Favorite Things:  
  • Reading:  Her favorites books are those centered around animals.  She knows just about every animal you can think of and even some of the noises they make.  Her two favorites?  Elephants and hippos!
  • Singing:  Loves nursery rhymes and even sings her ABC's up to the letter D as well as Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.  She knows almost an entire verse of that song.  We heard her singing it in her crib the other night for 20 minutes straight, so funny!
  • Feeding the dog:  It's become a daily thing.  The poor dog has to wait an extra 15 minutes as Rowen places each individual piece of food into her bowl instead of just one big scoop, torture!
  • Dress up:  She plays this a lot at daycare, so fun to watch her be silly.

Least Favorite Things:
  • The vacuum:  Hates it, wont got near it.
  • Getting dressed after bath:  Not sure what has caused this, but running around without clothes is how she likes to spend most of her evenings. 
  • Sitting in the cart:  She refuses.  Even with that little seat belt, she still wiggles her way out and attempts to stand, which makes me crazy!  I think I sang Baa Baa Black Sheep at least 20 times in the grocery store the other day...anything to keep her sitting!

Signature Moves:
  • The Hokey Pokey:  She likes to dance to this with her friends at daycare, she's pretty much mastered  the "shake it all around" part.

  • Naps: An hour and half during the afternoon is all we get from her.
  • At Night:  Sleeps 8:00pm-7:00am.  Rarely does she wake during the night, and if she does it's most likely because teeth are bothering her. 

In other news, Rowen was sent home early from daycare today due to low grade fever and a stuffy nose, blah!  This is like cold number 12 for her so far this winter...spring can hurry up and arrive any day now!  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Meal Plan Monday:: Grocery Shopping

It's been one snowy mess here today!  I was going to go into work like normal today, but since Ryan is home and interstate travel is not advised, I decided to stay put!

As planned I will post our weekly meals on Mondays, but I also thought it would be fun to chat today about one of my most dreaded tasks as a shopping.

Grocery shopping is one of those tasks that you either love or hate, and I personally sort of hate it.  I don't know why I hate it, I guess because I look at it as a chore, but eating is not really an option so unfortunately it's unavoidable.

Here are a few grocery shopping facts from our household:

1.  We are budgeters {perhaps a post on that later}, so we stick to a pretty strict budget of $100-$125 a week for groceries.  This typically covers five weeknight meals and non-food items like toilet paper, paper towels, etc {diapers/wipes are a separate budget item}.

2.  I refuse to go to the grocery store more than once a week so we go every weekend, usually in the  morning on either Saturday or Sunday.

3.  I do most of my shopping at our local big chain grocery store, however when buying toiletries I usually venture to someplace like Target or Walmart, where these items are a bit cheaper.

4.  I don't usually do coupons.  For some reason I can't get into it.  I've tried, but I feel like when I start using coupons I end up buying crap I don't really need just because I have a coupon.  I am however a big fan of the Target Cartwheel app.  If there is something on that app that I need I definitely use it.

6.  Lately, we've been trying to stay away from all of the packaged processed meals.  Reason being they are expensive and unhealthy.  Sure, we will sometimes cheat for an occasional frozen lasagna or  pizza, but for the most part we buy the ingredients we need to cook at home.  It definitely helps us stay on budget!

5.  I don't dare go grocery shopping without a list.  I usually spend Saturday morning writing out a list.  If I didn't have a list I know I would spend a lot more money than necessary.  Side note: I'm a nerd and try to organize my list by grocery know, freezer section, refridgerated, canned goods, meat, produce, etc.  It's a huge time saver!

6.  We always make enough to feed our family of three + leftovers.  Ryan and I pack our lunches for work so having extra for the next day helps save time and money!

7.  We prep all of our meals ahead of time, usually on Sundays.  I have a toddler whose bewitching hour is between 4-5pm so having dinner prepped and ready to go means all I have to do is turn on the oven and pop it in.  So much easier than trying to cook with a toddler clinging to my leg!

With that being said, here is what we've prepped and have ready for this week:

Monday::  One Pot Spaghetti 

Tuesday::  Stuffed Bell Peppers

Wednesday::  One-Pan Enchilada Pasta

Thursday:: Vegetable Chow Mein

Friday:: Cheeseburger Quesadillas

Off to watch some Olympics!  Be back later in the week with Rowen's 18/19 month update!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up

We've been without internet at my house all day...frustrating.  So I am attempting to blog on my phone, blah.

Anyways, hope everyone had a good weekend!  Ours was pretty laid back and relaxing for the most part.  Instead of beginning this post with a recap of Friday, I'm starting a day earlier because Thursday was Rowen's Valentine's Day party at daycare.

They made cookies and decorated them {look at that concentration}...

and handed out their Valentine treats...

Safe to say, she had a blast!

We have an awesome daycare provider!  Rowen just adores her, and I love that she takes pics of the kids throughout the day.  It's fun to see pictures of her everyday adventures since I can't be there in person.  So cute!

Next comes Friday, which was a normal work day for us.  Friday night it was just Rowen and I.  Ryan usually hangs out with his friends on Fridays and since we didn't really have plans this Valentine's Day we decided he didn't really need to change that for the "holiday".  I was totally fine with it because Rowen and I had a date with my mom to one of our favorite stores...
I could honestly spend hours {and a ton of money} here.  Plus, you can't beat the free cookies...yes please!

After our little shopping trip, Rowen opened her present from my parents.  New clothes and a book!  Spoiled girl!

On Saturday, Ryan, Rowen and I celebrated our Valentine's Day by giving Rowen her gift.  We didn't get her much, just a couple of books and some stickers {which are currently all all over the furniture}.  Rowen could read for hours, and we probably do spend at least an hour or two a day reading with her, she just loves it!

In my last post I mentioned that Ryan and I weren't going to get each other anything this year for Valentine's Day...well, I sort of lied.  That trip to Homemakers was for a reason.  They were having one of their biggest sales of the year and we just so happened to be in the market for a new kitchen table!  So Saturday afternoon we ventured back to Homemakers to order and bring home our new table, yay!

Our old kitchen table was a small, glass table that only seated four and we've been wanting a bigger one for sometime now.  It worked out well because that night we invited Ryan's parents and brother over for dinner!  Ryan made an awesome meal and it was just nice to be able to have people over and all be able to sit down together!

So that brings us to today {Sunday}.   Rowen and I did our weekly grocery run, which involves me and a cup of coffee in one hand and a cart and a cheese eating toddler in the other.

The afternoon was pretty much just a stay at home day for Ryan and Rowen while I headed to a friend's house for what we called, "Pinterest Day".  Perhaps I will show you that project soon!  :)

Tomorrow is President's Day.  Ryan has the day off from work and a "honey-do" list about a mile long, muahaha.  :)

Off to bed, fingers crossed we have internet tomorrow!